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Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has won a top national zoo award for its work with a bird that in this country is found only in the South West of England.

The Best Field Conservation Project award, from BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums), is for the charity’s work with cirl buntings.

The Zoo’s bird department has played a key role in a project to translocate cirl buntings to a secret site in Cornwall. Curator of Birds Jo Gregson said: “Zoo staff helped to collect young chicks from nests in South Devon for rearing and release in Cornwall. The birds have gone to a larger habitat which will allow them to expand their range in the future. The population in Devon has become land-locked due to development and farming practices. That sort of work needs a lot of care and experience.”

BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) held its annual awards ceremony at ZSL London Zoo with over 150 people in attendance. The event, known as the Zoo “Oscars” is held to celebrate some of the incredible contributions made by the zoo community to animal welfare, wildlife conservation, public understanding and horticulture.

Dr Kirsten Pullen, the CEO of BIAZA, is a former researcher with the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, the charity that runs Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, as well as several nature reserves in Devon.

She said: “The BIAZA awards highlight the crucial work carried out in zoos and aquariums. All of this year’s award-winning projects show the exceptional contributions our members are making to animal husbandry and welfare, wildlife conservation and public understanding for species both in the UK and overseas. Huge congratulations to all the winners.”

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